In the fall, the Wyoming High School Activities Association decided on a new format for regional basketball — one and done. The new tournament style means the loser of the first round of the …
In the fall, the Wyoming High School Activities Association decided on a new format for regional basketball — one and done. The new tournament style means the loser of the first round of the regional tournaments does not compete at the state championships.
With three of the state’s top five teams all in 3A Northwest, it meant one of the best teams in Wyoming would not make the trip to Casper for state. Powell ended up being the odd man out, falling to Lander Valley 61-49 last week.
“The format for regionals was difficult simply because of how difficult our quadrant was this year,” head coach Mike Heny said. “We knew last fall when they decided on the format that one really good team was not going to qualify for state.”
The loss to Lander ended the Panthers’ season at the 3A West Regional Tournament in Worland. They finished the season 14-5 overall and had entered the postseason ranked third in the state.
Trailing by just two points after the first quarter, Powell’s consistency on both ends dwindled in the second period. The Tigers went into the locker room with a 26-19 lead.
“Each time we would execute and get a score, we seemed to have a lapse on the defensive end and give up a bucket,” Heny said. “Lander did a good job of forcing us to take contested jump shots, but our lack of movement and aggressiveness on offense really let them off of the hook at times.”
PHS kept in reach in the third quarter, maintaining the seven-point deficit, but turnovers proved costly in the fourth. LVHS capitalized on the Panthers’ mistakes, allowing the Tigers to escape with a 12-point win.
For a Powelll team that was dominant for the majority of the regular season, it was a heartbreaking way for the season to end.
“Collectively we were very disappointed that our amazing run had to end the way it did and that all of our hard work didn’t pan out the way that we had imagined in our heads,” senior guard Mason Marchant said.
Trevor Groves was the only Panther in double figures with 11 points, playing “aggressively” in one of his best games of the season, Heny said. The coach also noted Mason Marchant, Jaden Marchant and Brock Johnson as others who performed well in defeat.
Though his squad fell short of its primary goal — making a run at the state tournament — Heny is still pleased with his team’s overall excellence throughout the season.
“I am really proud of how these kids represented the school and the community this year,” Heny said. “They finished the season undefeated at home and beat a lot of really good teams along the way.”
The senior class will be hard to replace. Mason and Jaden Marchant, Landon Lengfelder, Groves, Adrian Geller and Landon Sessions have now all played their final games in orange and black.
With six key contributors graduating, that leaves a sizable hole for the Panthers going forward. But that group’s legacy and leadership during its four years in the program could help the team stay competitive as those players depart.
“This senior class has accomplished a lot during their four years,” Heny said. “They competed night in and night out and really set a good example for the younger players in the program. They have really helped us to build momentum in the program.”
Mason Marchant added, “We were happy with the experience and the fun times we had with each other. I hope that not only being a positive leader passes on to them, but also being a positive role model outside the court and being a friend to them stays important.”
Lander Valley 61, Powell 49
Points — Trevor Groves 11, Jaden Marchant 9, Mason Marchant 8, Brock Johnson 7, Landon Lengfelder 5, Adrian Geller 4, Zach Ratcliff 2, Landon Sessions 2, Toran Graham 1
Rebounds — Lengfelder 5, J. Marchant 4, Graham 4, M. Marchant 4, Groves 3, Sessions 3, Geller 3, Johnson 3, Ratcliff 1
Assists — M. Marchant 6
(Editor's note: This version corrects where the game was played.)